Saturday, June 19, 2021

Join the Impact

Activism Rooted in the Internet

Health care reform and LGBT Americans

Posted by admin On September - 10 - 2009

The following Op-Ed was written by Joe Mirabella. Joe Mirabella is a volunteer for Join the Impact as the Washington State Community Organizer.  Mirabella is a full time writer and content developer. He is engaged to marry his partner of 5 1/2 years in their home state of Iowa.

Last night President Obama addressed the nation about an issue that is important to all Americans. Regardless of any other defining trait or political agenda, our mutual humanity unites us under one common umbrella; we will all at one point in our lives require medical attention. Anyone who has experienced a serious or debilitating medical condition understands that our current system is overwhelmingly flawed.  Even those of us who have had only minor medical problems understand all to well how quickly medical bills can overwhelm us even if we have insurance. Our country is blessed with some of the best medical minds in the world, and yet access is rationed based on economic and social status. Modern societies should care for the weakest among them. The United State’s is fully capable of fulfilling its fundamental promise in the Declaration of Independence:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

Elemental in the pursuit of happiness in our modern society must be access to health care services. Like so many progressive citizens I am dismayed that the debate about one of the most important institutions in our nation was hijacked by a few unstable individuals. It is vitally important that the President knows he has the support of the progressive community as he continues this important debate.   There are currently 5 bills making their way through congress (3 in the house, 2 in the Senate) and we must monitor all of them to make sure the town criers do not intimidate our elected officials from producing a quality and fair bill.

Join the Impact’s mission is to continue the conversation about LGBT citizens and our desire to be treated equally under the law in all 50 states in all matters of civil law. Health care reform fits within that mission. It is vital that the progressive LGBT community insists our families are included in the final legislation. We stand in solidarity with our brothers and sisters who do not have basic hospital visitation rights when the person they spend a lifetime with becomes ill. We understand that people die alone in hospitals while separated from their families because of their sexual orientation. We hope that as we stand with the President today on his goal for a health care bill (and his original goal for a public option), that he understands that health care reform is not just about insurance or about money, but about families who in times of crisis should not be separated from each other under any circumstance. When “family” is defined in the health care legislation the LGBT community must be included. Furthermore, Domestic partners and same sex married couples must be able to share health benefits without the current federal income tax burden on their families. Heterosexual families are not taxed on their shared benefits.

We can not forget our transgender friends and family whose needs are almost always left on the cutting room floor. It is all too common for transgender citizens to be denied health care simply because of who they are. Hospitals refuse their admittance, doctors refuse their care, and health insurance policies explicitly deny so-called “transgender care”. We request a strong public option that does not discriminate based on sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression.  A public option is particularly important for our transgender community members because they are fired without recourse and regularly denied work altogether.  Most health insurance policies are provided by employers so if citizens can not find work they need a public option.

We understand the political significance of the health care reform bill.  Conservatives will stop at nothing to smear progressive attempts to reform.  We would like to request that as you construct your spin job you leave our families out of it. It will be easy for you to scare people by presenting our families and our issues. You are well practiced. There have already been attempts to scare people away from health care reform because of our inclusion in some drafts. Instead of creating even more fear about our community it would serve us all if you instead debated the structural content of the bills on a broader honest landscape. And if the conservatives remain steadfast in bullying the LGBT community, I hope the progressive community embraces our humanity and refuses not buckle under the pressure.  No human should be left behind in what could be the most monumental health care reform bill of this century.  The time for outlandish lies from the right is over — the time for swift action from progressives is now.

at home in a crowd of thousands

Posted by willow On June - 8 - 2009

The following post was originally published on Tuesdaysblog.com on May 19, 2009.  It is republished here with the permission of the author, Tony Clements. Tony Clements is a sometimes actor, director, composer, playwright, t-shirt salesperson, former telemarketer (he’s sorry), piano salesman, newspaper ad man, wedding band singer, and kimball organ demonstrator in the local shopping mall (at eight years old.) 28 years ago he was editor of the emerald echo, his school newspaper – experience he’s sure is evident here.

last sunday afternoon, as i stood among the thousands of people corralled into the closed-down southbound lane of 6th avenue between 45th and 47th at new york city’s rally for marriage equality, i glanced around and realized i was experiencing an emotion i hadn’t felt so strongly since i first walked into a gay bar back in the early 1980s. and i’m not talking about an overwhelming sense that my hairstyle is five years out of date.

that first gay bar was actually in san francisco, california. cliché? maybe. but for a small town wisconsin boy, fresh out of high school, that was going some. my good friend kevin and i had finally taken that long-planned trip to california – (was it late 1979?) – something we’d been dreaming about for years. like millions of other kids, we’d told ourselves we would drive across the country in a beat-up volkswagen van, making pit stops along the way to camp-out. as with most “drive a van to california” schemes, reality eventually set in (where were we gonna get camping gear, much less a beat-up volkswagen van?) and we opted to fly.
we stayed with a friend

who’d moved to the west coast from southeastern wisconsin the day after his high school graduation, a couple of years prior. after a long day of travel and a quick dinner, we dropped our bags and our california buddy, eager to show us the town, looked us in the eye and said,“now: do you really want to see san francisco?”

somewhere deep down i knew what he meant. i’m not sure kevin did.

we walked a couple of blocks to a corner bar – nothing special. far from seedy, but certainly not fancy. neighborhoody, like the kind of place my dad hung out after a ballgame. (go ahead, make that leap.) fifteen or so minutes and a beer and a half later, kevin leaned in to me and whispered, “shit tony, i don’t think there are any girls in here.” and he was right. scanning the bar, we sort of giggled to ourselves, finished our beers, and moved on to “safer environs.” kevin was uncomfortable. i pretended to be.
before we left the bar, however, i’d taken notice of a late 20-something year-old man playing a game of pool. by himself. he was dressed modestly – worn-out blue jeans, work boots, a brown hooded sweatshirt – and had an intense, but warm, open face. no one spoke to him, no one approached him, yet he was anything but alone. there was a solace, a confidence. i caught his eye at one point, and something subtle passed between us. nothing sexual, but awelcome, if you will. as if he knew something i didn’t, and was telling me everything was going to be okay. at the time i wasn’t sure what it was, but i remember it vividly to this day.

after his pool game he perched in a corner, still by himself, and pulled out a small, silver harmonica. a harmonica. what a fantastical place this san francisco is, i thought. no one seemed to care or even notice when he began to play. the tune was sweet and simple, but it was a bluesy, haunted sound that filled the echoy openness of that quiet barroom, interrupted only by the muffled whistles and dings of a lone pinball machine in a back room somewhere. and eventually the jukebox playing the stones’ “miss you”.
it wasn’t the absence of straight folk that i found intriguing about that neighborhood bar, or even the mysterious harmonica player in the corner. it was the stunning sense of freedom. of being at home. it’s not something you feel as a gay person growing up in a small, rural town. it’s not something you know enough to miss, either. without realizing it, you carry with you a sense of staying hidden, keeping quiet, no matter who you’re with or where you are. you must never let your guard down, not for a moment, for fear of not only the shame it could cause your family, your friends, you, but of the physical harm that might follow. even in this bar, thousands of miles from home, that new taste of freedom – palpable as it was – wasn’t quite complete because my friend kevin was always present. i couldn’t completely embrace it, savor it. as much as i loved kevin and was enjoying our trip together, i longed desperately for him to leave for a hour or two so i could be completely unencumbered by any fear of judgement or ridicule. not so anything could happen, just so i could…be.

sunday, at the rally, i looked around and took in some of the people near me – three couples in particular. two older men, probably mid-70’s, standing side by side, one gently rubbing the other’s neck. every so often they would share a look that i don’t ever remember seeing between my parents.

behind me were two women standing one in front of the other in an easy, casual embrace. now and again the woman behind would rub her nose in the other woman’s hair, and they would both smile a gentle, peaceful smile.

the third couple was my partner rob and me. look at us, i thought. we are so stronghappy. together. a team.

and then there was a young man, 17 maybe, standing with friends. he glanced at me, our eyes met briefly, and i smiled. he did too. everything’s gonna be okay, i said.

i had to force myself to think, for a moment, about how uncomfortable this scene might make some people feel. to me, we were all beautiful human beings, loving each other, supporting each other, caring for each other. the mystery, the solace, the confidence. it was all quite wonderful.

kevin would still probably be uncomfortable, i thought to myself. thank god i don’t need to pretend to be anymore. we don’t need to pretend.

we are at home.
we are free
.

Change is on the Horizon

Posted by amy On November - 25 - 2008

Has anyone heard the news from Floriday today? In a landmark decision, the Florida ban on gay adoptions was declared UNCONSTITUTIONAL! Our movement has made many strides since Stonewall and even before then. Read the rest of this entry »

The Next 3 Months

Posted by amy On November - 21 - 2008

Our movement for full Civil Equality has been infused over the past 2 weeks with so many inspired and powerful voices! JoinTheImpact has been working nonstop with members from many other organizations to ensure that we keep our visibility strong. We must also never stop this conversation. I know that many of you are tired from all of the hard work we have done over the past two weeks, so don’t forget to take a moment and breathe. In just two short weeks, we have all come together to mobilize this nation and this debate. The JoinTheImpact team has been working incredibly hard to ensure that our voices do not go unheard. We wanted to announce to you our plans for the next 3 months and let you see how JoinTheImpact will be evolving: Read the rest of this entry »